|Although edited for
television, this typical James Bond film may not be suitable for younger
audiences. Parental discretion is advised. Those words would
occasionally pop up at the beginning of an OO7 film when they first
appeared on the ABC television network in the early 1970s.†
It was September 17, 1972 when ABC presented the world premiere of Goldfinger on the Sunday night movie beginning at 9pm. The movie went off without a hitch except the gunbarrel icon scene was eliminated totally. A few shots were cut out to tone down the sex and violence. The scene with Oddjob enveloped in a shower of sparks at Fort Knox was cut. Only showing him touching his hat and falling to the floor. ABC was very sensitive in those days. It was at this time that ABC and EON productions were making plans to bring all of the Bond films on television during the 1972-73 season. These would include Dr. No through On Her Majestyís Secret Service. However, several weeks later ABC made an announcement that the remaining OO7 films would be shown in the following years.†
In early 1974, From Russia, with Love made itís premiere with the pre-credit sequence cut out and reedited after the belly dancer credits. This would begin the often cruel and incompetent censoring of the Bond films as shown on ABC. Other scenes such as the gypsy camp and the Orient Express fight between Bond and Grant were trimmed relentlessly. The spring of í74 had ABC reprising Goldfinger, except this time the entire pre-credit sequence was cut out completely and would never be seen again until HBO presented the movie on cable in 1980. The fall of í74 brought two OO7 films to TV. In September the showing of Thunderball and another butchering of the gun barrel sequence.† This time the dots roll across the screen and then cut to the final dot segueing into the letters JB during the funeral.† We never see Sean Connery walk across the screen and fire at the audience.† The rest of the film continues with all scenes in their respected order but just a few shots cut out or muted such as Bond undressing Patricia Fearing in the steam bath, Bond giving Patricia a mink backrub, and the scene where he says to Domino at the pool side, "Wait until you get to my teeth."†
November came the first broadcast of Dr. No. Only a few shots were cut out including the Three Blind Mice shooting Strangeways (you see them shoot but you do not see Strangeways slump violently into his car) and Bond shooting Professor Dent, cold-blooded, in the back.† Bond shoots him once and then dismantles his gun.
In the late 70s, Dr. No was the only Bond film to be broadcast at 11:30 pm. It was ABC's answer to countering CBS's late night movie series. Unfortunally for Dr. No, the editors had to condense the film to fit the one and half hour format. The results, the introduction scene of Sean Connery at the Le Cercle club, the death of Professor Dent, and the scene where Bond crawls through Dr. No's ventilation pipes completely deleted.
In September 1975, Diamonds Are Forever came on the ABC Friday Night Movie. Dialogue such as Bond saying "Welcome to hell, Blofeld," Willard Whyte saying "Bond, get the hell off that rig" and of course Shady Treeís comments to Bond as he saves him from a fiery death all ended on the cutting room floor. Also, the waterbed scene with Bond and Tiffany is missing. After the Las Vegas car chase ends, ABC went to a commercial, when they came back from the commercial break we see Felix Leiter and his men looking for the bridal suite where Bond and Tiffany are staying.† Probably the most noticeable edits are the scenes with Wint and Kidd.† We never see them holding their hands after the helicopter blows up and Mr. Kidd's dialogue about Tiffany being an attractive woman is cut down.† ABC went to great lengths trying to downplay their homosexual relationship.
In October, ABC presented You Only Live Twice. This time ABC literally ruined the pre-credit sequence. The movie begins with the space capsule but twelve seconds into the scene the shot cuts to Bond already dead in his bed and the credits begin to roll. When the credits end the scene segues to Hong Kong harbor. We see and hear the boats passing in the channel and then the scene cuts back to the space capsule with the astronaut just beginning his space walk. The rest of the pre-credit sequence continues without any abrupt interruptions but when we get to Bond dead in his bed the scene cuts to Hong Kong harbor again.† This sequence was probably the most confusing of all the Bond films that ABC presented - until On Her Majestyís Secret Service came on for the first time.
|It was February 1976 and it was sweeps month
for the big three networks. ABC was doing very well in the ratings with
itís mini series Rich Man, Poor Man, but during the last two Mondays
of February, ABC presented On Her Majesty's Secret Service in two parts.
The first part, after the gunbarrel icon, opens with a close-up of
Bondís foot as it is being placed in a ski. A British voice begins
(not Lazenbyís) by saying, "Bond, James Bond here agent OO7, on
her majestyís secret service." The scene continues with Bond
skiing down a moonlit mountain pursued by Blofeldís men. Practically
the entire ski chase is introduced as part of the pre-credit sequence
with this inane voice-over. Even the part where Bond meets Tracy at the
ice rink is there as part of a segue into the opening beach scene. But
the scene with M and Q at Universal Exports is missing entirely. ABC had
done the worst possible thing to a Bond film. They rearranged scenes and added narration. Throughout
the first half of OHMSS, the audience had to endure this
blasphemy. To the people who have never seen this film before, they
thought the producers at EON were to blame. Whatever the case, this
movie did not recover for years to come.†
The fall of 1976 came the television premiere of Live and Let Die with minor scenes trimmed out for broadcast such as Mrs. Bell saying "Holy Sh_ _!" as Bond cuts off the wings of the Cessna, the explosion of Adamís boat was cut down and the part where Tee Hee is pushed into the bathroom wall of the train by Bond and a handy upper berth ladder.
February 1977, The Man with the Golden Gun made itís TV debut. This time the credits were retouched to cover up any partial nudity. Basically, they used close-ups of sparklers instead of the naked sliding girl. Other scenes such as Bond saying to Lazar "Speak now, or forever hold your piece," Chew Me naked in Hai Fat's pool, and some of J.W Pepperís profanity eliminated. When TMWTGG debuted on American television, it marked the first time a Bond movie came on two years after itís theatrical debut. It also marked the first time all the Bond movies had been shown on TV before the next one came out at the theaters.
It would be the fall of 1980 when The Spy Who Loved Me made its debut with very few scenes edited out. Obviously the scene with Anya nude in the submarine shower is a definite no-no.
Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill all came on television two years after their theatrical debuts. All with fairly minor scenes cut out. Apparently ABC was growing up in itís censorship of movies.
The Living Daylights would be the last Bond film to debut on ABC in 1990. The network would cut out scenes such as 004's grotesque thud as his body slams against the cliffs of Gibraltar and the part where Russian soldiers are caught sans pants in the barrack's shower during the climatic fight scene.
Licence to Kill would make it's debut on the FOX network in 1992. Like ABC, they would cut out more of the graphic violence.†
But the real irony of the ABC broadcastings was in the disclaimer shown at the beginning of each film saying: "Although edited for television, this typical James Bond film may not be suitable for younger audiences. Viewer discretion is advised." To this viewer, laughter would overcome me since a few minutes before, ABC was showing a racy scene from their latest mini series.
Fortunately, for us the Bond films would finally get their due respect
with the home video entertainment systems. And in 1991, Turner's
superstation "TBS" presented the Bond series in double feature formats. However, they too, were not spared the editor's scissors. 2002 brought OO7 back to ABC in three hour segments. This time ABC not only cut out some of the violence and language, they digitally enhanced some of the bedroom scenes. Such as Diamonds Are Forever's character Plenty O'Toole. Her skin colored panties were converted to black and a bra strap added.
In late fall 2002, TNN cable network acquired the Bond series and presented them in a chronological marathon run, with commercials, and uncut. Something ABC and TBS could not do. In November 2003, SPIKE-TV (formerly TNN) presented 15 of the Bond films, in full screen format with commercial breaks, which were longer than the film segments. The results were deadly causing viewers to stop watching the films on cable and switching over to their DVD copies. Perhaps proving there is no hope for the Bond films when they appear on commercial television.